Mayoral Forum on NYCHA

Join us for a Mayoral Forum on NYCHA. We will address RAD and the Blueprint.

Fight For NYCHA are hosting a Zoom forum of the 2021 New York City mayoral candidates on the issues facing residents of the New York City Housing Authority (“NYCHA”), like the Rental Assistant Demonstration scheme (“RAD”) and the Blueprint to sell-out public housing. Please make sure to register to attend our Zoom conference.

We are keeping a public spreadsheet of the 2021 NYC mayoral candidates’ positions on NYCHA public housing issues. We will provide a summary from the Q&A during our Zoom mayoral forum.

Registration Required

All 2021 NYC mayoral candidates, their team members, and NYCHA public housing residents can register to attend.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE : 5 City Council Candidates call on de Blasio to stop RAD conversions at NYCHA during pandemic

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

CONTACTS :

Anthony Beckford,
VoteforAnthonyBeckford@gmail.com,
(989) 964-8713

Rodrigo Camarena,
Rodrigo@Rodrigo4NYC.com,

Victoria Cambranes,
vcambranes@gmail.com,
(917) 202-8466

Rick Echevarría,
rick@voterick2021.com,
(929) 282-5482

Marni Halasa,
marnihalasa@gmail.com,
(917) 501-9444

FIVE DEMOCRATIC PARTY PRIMARY CANDIDATES FOR CITY COUNCIL CALL ON MAYOR DE BLASIO TO STOP RAD CONVERSIONS AT NYCHA — AND HAND-OVER DECISIONS ABOUT THE FUTURE OF PUBLIC HOUSING TO THE NEXT MAYOR, THE NEXT CITY COUNCIL

NEW YORK, NY (Nov. 28) — A group of five (5) Democratic Party primary candidates in separate New York City Council races are calling on Mayor Bill de Blasio (D-New York City) to cease all conversions of New York City Housing Authority (“NYCHA“) apartment buildings under HUD’s scheme known as Rental Assistance Demonstration (“RAD“).

City Council Candidates Anthony Beckford (D-District 45), Rodrigo Camarena (D-District 38), Victoria Cambranes (D-District 33), Rick Echevarría (D-District 37), and Marni Halasa (D-District 3) issue the following statements in a joint effort to draw attention to the mayor’s dangerous privatization of public housing.

“The attempt to privatize public housing is violence against the people,” said Beckford, adding that, “The RAD program will displace thousands of families and will eliminate public housing. RAD is a threat to NYCHA residents and must be eliminated.  Private developers and the elected officials who support them are a threat to our communities and must be stopped. We must fully fund and repair NYCHA and provide the services and resources needed for the tenants.”

“Public housing should remain in the public’s hands,” said Camarena, adding that, “The RAD program opens the door for the full privatization of public housing in New York City and aims to absolve our Government from their responsibility to fully-fund and repair NYCHA. Housing is a human right, and it’s up to our Government to secure and protect that right.”

“RAD conversions are a shortsighted privatization scheme that would have NYCHA tenants living within construction sites, breathing in all that dust, paint, and whatever else kicks up,” said Cambranes, adding that, “It’s a proven eviction-machine, and while tenants may enjoy new kitchen upgrades, their rights and protections will deteriorize just as their buildings have for so long.”

“Mayor de Blasio should be ashamed of himself for attempting to privatize public housing that has been public for 100 years, while HUD has an anti-public housing and lame duck Secretary,” said Echevarría, adding that, “There should be no further RAD progress until the new HUD Secretary is confirmed ! At which point, the HUD/NYCHA agreement should be modified to preserve public housing in the long-term without a private option !”

“Hard data shows that RAD is not only an eviction machine, but will end public housing as we know it,” said Halasa, candidate for Council District 3. “What’s sad is that the elected officials on the West Side of Manhattan put public housing tenants through the wringer with their sham working group, a group which operates in secret — in violation of the state’s sunshine laws that demands transparency in the disposition of public assets. At the very least, because of COVID, RAD should be shelved until the next mayor and Councilmembers are elected. That’s the least they could do.”

The pandemic makes it impossible for NYCHA residents to meet, confer, discuss, and understand the RAD legal documents

Amidst the second shut-down of the Coronavirus pandemic, now is not the time to continue with, much less expand, RAD conversions. NYCHA residents have long complained that NYCHA is not providing enough explanations or translations about the RAD conversion legal documents. The conversion process itself has been designed to bum-rush tenants into signing RAD Leases with horrendous clauses and provisions.  NYCHA has proposed Zoom meetings as an inferior substitute for physical meetings, but the Zoom meetings fail to attract robust participation, because residents either don’t have WiFi, computer or smart phone devices, or the skill to make meaningful use of Zoom meetings (as imperfect and limiting as they are). An immediate suspension to all RAD conversions is warranted, and a robust public review of the privatization of NYCHA must take place under the next mayoral administration and the next City Council session — once the pandemic is over.

We Don’t Need RAD to save NYCHA

Many elected officials have pending legislation to save NYCHA (or to make the process to “dispose” of public housing assets more transparent), and it is dishonest to move forward with RAD as the sole solution when other solutions are within reach. For example, U.S. Rep. Nydia Velázquez (D-NY 7) has introduced a bill to fully-fund the capital repairs needed by NYCHA without having to resort to any privatization. Assemblymember Harvey Epstein (D-74th District) co-sponsors legislation to make any disposition of public housing assets subject to the City’s Uniform Land Use Review Procedure (“ULURP Process“). Separately, the activist-preservation group, Fight For NYCHA, have argued that money can be found to fully-fund repairs at NYCHA by raising taxes on corporations or the wealthy with ideas featured in their aspirational, People’s Budget.

The candidates make these statements in support of the NYCHA residents currently facing RAD conversion. The candidates join in the fight to keep NYCHA residents in Section 9 public housing and to let those, who have them, keep their portable Section 8 Tenant-Based Vouchers (TBV).

Melanie Aucello, the resident association president at the NYCHA public housing apartment building located at 344 East 28th Street in Manhattan, recently joined Fight For NYCHA as a core member, because her apartment building and 15 other locations face imminent RAD conversion, which is expected to take place on Monday, Nov. 30.

Aucello, civil rights attorney Michael Sussman, and Assemblymember Epstein issued a press release last Tuesday, making a similar demand as the five candidates. A separate letter sent by Sussman to Mayor de Blasio raised objections to clauses or provisions in the proposed RAD Lease Agreement that could pass extra costs to tenants and put tenants at-risk for evictions.

RAD is a bad deal for public housing tenants

In the past, RAD conversions have led to evictions. At the Ocean Bay Apartments in Far Rockaway, Queens, which Mayor de Blasio has described as his “model” for RAD, 80 households were evicted following RAD conversion. Those evictions stemmed from over 300 Housing Court actions filed by the RAD Landlord at Ocean Bay alone in the time following its RAD Conversion.

Because RAD has developed such a bad reputation, the mayor has rebranded RAD under an Orwellian name :  Permanent Affordability Commitment Together (“PACT“) in an effort to confuse tenants about the negative impacts that privatization of public housing holds in their future. Besides RAD/PACT conversions, the mayor plans to seize green spaces, playgrounds, and parking lots for infill development, and he plans to sell air rights above NYCHA developments to real estate developers. He has also shockingly proposed the demolition of public housing apartment buildings in order to rezone the lots under Mandatory Inclusionary Housing (“MIH“) to build 80-20 or 70-30 luxury apartment buildings.

To market RAD, HUD has argued that RAD provides $19 of leverage to every $1 of public housing funds. However, a 2018 review by the National Affordable Housing Management Association (“NAHMA“) revealed that when RAD funding was recalculated to remove Government funding, the leverage ratio falls to $1.23 in private financial funding to every $1 in public housing funds.

In light of the addition of only pennies on the dollar in real margin and as a result of the eviction risks to public housing residents, the above-named City Council candidates and the activist-preservation group Fight For NYCHA are arguing that preserving the status quo until the next mayor has been elected and the next session of the New York City Council has been sworn in (once the pandemic is over) would provide conditions that would lead to more transparency and tenant participation in determining the future of NYCHA public housing.

About Fight For NYCHA

Fight For NYCHA is a collective fighting so NYCHA tenants can self-determine the future of public houisng in New York City. We oppose Mayor Bill de Blasio’s plan to put one-third of NYCHA into the hands of private landlords. We believe the money exists to save NYCHA. We just have to change our priorities. Learn more about our People’s Budget plan to fully-fund NYCHA : https://fightfornycha.org/peoples-budget/.

Fight For NYCHA is not a political action committee. As a result, it does not endorse candidates, and it makes no financial contributions to campaign committees.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE : RAD Landlords can ask HUD to deregulate public housing apartments

RAD Conversion Documents Reveal That A RAD Landlord Can Ask HUD To Deregulate A Per Centage. Of Public Housing Units If A Building Fails To Become Economically Viable, Threatening To Convert Public Housing To Market-Rate Apartments

The public demands a suspension of RAD conversions at NYCHA and call on Bill de Blasio to let the next mayor determine the future of public housing in New York City

(New York, NY, Nov. 24) — Legal agreements being used by the administration of Mayor Bill de Blasio to convert 16 public housing developments owned and operated by the New York City Housing Authority (“NYCHA”) as a bundle under HUD’s controversial scheme known as Rental Assistance Demonstration (“RAD”) give RAD Landlords the ability to ask the U.S. Dept. of Housing and Urban Development to deregulate formerly public housing apartment units into market-rate apartments should a RAD Landlord fail to make RAD-converted buildings economically viable, records reveal.

See Section 2(c)(v) of the Declaration : https://fightfornycha.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/11/Declaration-of-Restrictive-Covenants-and-Use-Agreement-East-28th-Wise-Towers-D0998451-7xA5BED.docx.

Melanie Aucello, the resident association president at the NYCHA public housing development at 344 East 28th Street in Manhattan, has become a core member of the NYCHA preservation group, Fight For NYCHA. Her building is about to join 15 other public housing developments in a bundle conversion scheduled to be completed by 30 November.

In the past, RAD conversions have led to evictions. At the Ocean Bay Apartments in Far Rockaway, Queens, which Mayor de Blasio has described as his “model” for RAD, 80 households were evicted following RAD conversion. Those evictions stemmed from over 300 Housing Court actions filed by one RAD Landlord at Ocean Bay alone in the time following its RAD Conversion.

See https://citylimits.org/2019/08/14/nycha-evicitons-rad-oceanbay/.

“In the holiday season — and in the middle of a pandemic — I have to ask Mayor de Blasio, ‘Why would you put all of NYCHA residents at-risk for evictions ?’ We demand a stop to RAD,” said Aucello, adding that, “The process you and NYCHA have forced upon us is intentionally designed for the best interests of private sector landlords and their profit. It is unfair to saddle future generations and the next, incoming mayoral administration with the consequences of RAD. It is best left for the next mayor to save NYCHA, not you.”

The civil rights attorney, Michael Sussman, has sent Mayor de Blasio a letter raising important objections about the RAD legal agreements and the new Lease Agreement that public housing residents are being forced to sign.

See : https://fightfornycha.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/11/20201123_Second_Michael_Sussman_Letter_to_Mayor_Bill_de_Blasio_NYCHA_RAD_Conversions.pdf.

Amongst the issues Sussman has complained to Mayor de Blasio about the new Lease Agreement, include, but are not limited to :

  • There are numerous provisions that permit a RAD Landlord to passthrough costs to public housing residents, many of whom live on low- or fixed-incomes, including the cost of utilities (which are now paid for NYCHA), thus leading to an increase in effective rents ;
  • There is language that gives the RAD Landlord an out in respect of the provision of basic standards of habitability, which should be offensive to the U.S. Attorney’s Office, since Federal prosecutors first began their investigation into NYCHA in 2016 due widepsread violations of physical condition standards ;
  • RAD will eliminate the existence of tenant-based rental assistance vouchers (which are portable) and replace them with project-based rental assistance vouchers (which are not portable). This will make it complicated or nearly impossible for public housing residents to be able to find better or larger apartments, or better locations ; and
  • Tenants have fears that other provisions in the Lease Agreement will make it easier for RAD Landlords to evict residents.

“The ongoing RAD conversions have failed to produce tangible and significant gains for residents of public housing,” said Sussman, adding that, “The lease proposed for residents includes onerous provisions which are financially disadvantageous to existing tenants and give new management increased leverage over their lives. What is needed is a national commitment to supporting those tenants who qualify for public housing without sacrificing their existing status and rights.”

Assemblymember Harvey Epstein (D-74th District), who has sponsored legislation to make formal a legal procedure for the disposition of public housing assets, said, “I stand with tenants at 344 East 28th Street and tenants around New York City to oppose RAD and privatization of public housing ! We need a plan to protect those apartments for generations to come.”

The revelation that HUD can permit the deregulation of public housing apartments, in addition to the many problems note about the Lease Agreement, make RAD wholly unacceptable, say other members of the group, Fight For NYCHA.

# # #

#SDNY close the door on #NYCHA activists seeking last-resort help to stop unlawful #RAD conversions

The U.S. Attorney’s Office oversees the NYCHA Settlement Agreement that was supposed to save NYCHA — not sell it out.

Security guards at the U.S. Attorney’s Office turned away NYCHA activists who had showed up at their doorstep on Wednesday, denying them a requested meeting with Acting U.S. Attorney Audrey Strauss. The activists included Melanie Aucello, the president of the resident association of the NYCHA public housing apartment building at 344 East 28th Street in Manhattan.

Residents at NYCHA apartment buildings have been being pressured into signing leases with private sector landlords under a neoliberal Federal scheme known as Rental Assistance Demonstration, or RAD, that has been shown to lead to evictions and other civil rights violations. At one Kips Bay apartment building, where Ms. Aucello lives, the lease signings have been taking place without translated documents for some residents, who only speak foreign languages, and the residents have been denied the benefit of a full review of lease documents by their counsel, Manhattan Legal Services.

Speaking of RAD conversions, Ms. Aucello said, “We demand a moratorium.”

The exchange between the activists and security guards for the U.S. Attorney’s Office became heated at times. “Please don’t turn us away,” Ms. Aucello said. A member of Fight For NYCHA added, “We’ve been turned away and ignored by the Mayor, by Gale Brewer, by everybody. Even AOC threw us under the bus.”

One security guard provided blank complaint forms to Ms. Aucello. Ultimately, the security guards closed their door to the activists.

Is Acting U.S. Attorney Strauss a cold-hearted functionary ?

On Tuesday, the activists were interviewed by WBAI about a protest that took place at the Kips Bay apartment building on Monday. The Kips Bay apartment building is one of 16 apartment complexes that faces almost imminent RAD conversion. In total, Mayor Bill de Blasio (WFP-New York City) plans to put 60,000 public housing apartments into the RAD scheme, dealing a severe blow to the future of Section 9 public housing. So far, many so-called “progressive” groups have refused to express any criticism of Mayor de Blasio’s dangerous bid to end public housing as we know it.

Sleep-out protest announced to highlight ongoing and continuing breach by the de Blasio administration of NYCHA-HUD Settlement Agreement

Join NYCHA tenants and activists, who are protesting Acting U.S. Attorney Audrey (the “Queen of Mean”) Strauss, who is countenancing the horrifying conditions at NYCHA. Even though Mayor Bill de Blasio (WFP-New York City) has breached the HUD Settlement Agreement, Audrey Strauss does nothing about it.

Well, not anymore.

We will be sleeping for one night outside of the do-nothing Acting U.S. Attorney’s office. During the night, we will plan how to participate in a #GeneralStrike. We hope our actions will compel Audrey Strauss to do the right thing and to force the mayor to begin depositing money with the U.S. District Court that will begin to pay for long-over due repairs at NYCHA, beginning with a plan to upgrade all heat this winter.

Former U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara began the Federal investigation in NYCHA to bring about justice for public housing residents. And here comes along Audrey Strauss, and she’s willing to let Preet Bharara’s work lapse under more neglect. This represents a breach of public trust.

For our protest, not everybody needs to sleep outside with us. Anybody can join us for a meeting beginning that evening at 6 pm.

For those willing to spend the night with us outside, please bring a sleeping bag, some toiletries, and whatever food or water you may need.

Join us for a planning meeting on Wednesday, Sept. 9, so we can prepare for our sleep-out protest.

R.S.V.P. to our Sleep-out Protest

VIDEO : Harlem public housing residents forced to use fire hydrant after water main break left thousands of NYCHA residents without water

NYCHA officials set up a water station connected to fire hydrants, so Harlem residents could collect water to flush their toilets.

New York City Housing Authority officials blamed a water main break in East Harlem for a water outage that left approx. 3,000 Taft Houses public housing residents without water service, beginning on Sunday, and reportedly continuing into Tuesday morning.

The water outage forced Harlem residents to use one of two reported water stations connected to fire hydrants for water that had to be carried back to their apartments to use to flush their indoor plumbing. Video showed tenants using water jugs, pans, and bag-lined push carts as make shift containers to transport water indoors.

An inspection conducted by a member of Fight For NYCHA NYCHA on Tuesday morning did not reveal any streets flooded out or collapsed by a water main break. However, across the street from 1694 Madison Ave., the site of one such water station set-up, was a construction site, where a new luxury apartment building was going up. It is not known if any private landlords requested a shutting of water main service in order to connect that building to the area’s water main.

Mayor’s NYCHA Working Group holds another meeting at Hudson Guild

RAD disparate impact discrimination

The resident meeting of the Mayor’s NYCHA Working Group was called after Fight For NYCHA announced its town hall meeting.

Fight For NYCHA protested outside of Hudson Guild as a resident meeting of the Mayor’s NYCHA Working Group took place inside on Thursday evening, Feb. 6.

The meeting did not discuss anything material, except that it was reportedly alluded to that no agreement has been reached on the RAD conversion of Fulton Houses, according to information obtained by Fight For NYCHA.

Another meeting of the Mayor’s NYCHA Working Group is expected to take place on Monday, Feb. 24, according to a source.

NYCHA RAD lease reveals that tenants legally accept Section 8 apartments “as is,” potentially precluding complaints about conditions, compensation over injuries

Landlords argue that when tenants accepted apartments “as is,” tenants accept dangerous conditions on the property and are thus precluded from suing landlords over dangerous conditions.

After the New York City Housing Authority (“NYCHA”) canceled without any advance notice a 18 Dec. 2019, meeting between tenants of 572 Warren Street and their new RAD Landlord, NYCHA ultimately rescheduled that meeting for 21 Jan. 2020, at the Wyckoff Community Center in Gowanus, Brooklyn.

At last night’s meeting, NYCHA pro-RAD functionary Leroy Williams, who has run afoul of Government transparency advocates, conducted the meeting. Members of Fight For NYCHA were there and were able to obtain several documents that show for the first time that NYCHA considers RAD to be “partial privatization,” a term that the administration of Mayor Bill de Blasio (WFP-New York City) had previously rejected. A representative of Arker Companies, the RAD Landlord, addressed the tenants.

RAD stands for Rental Assistance Demonstration, an Orwellian name given to an Obama administration housing program that turns public housing into one of those nightmarish “public-private partnerships.” RAD has been shown to lead to higher rents, an increased incidence of landlord harassment, and upward spikes in evictions.

Reference Documents

Most problematic is that the new RAD Lease that public housing residents are being forced to sign under duress of displacement strong-arms tenants into accepting the uninhabitable conditions of their apartments “as is.”

The Form of the RAD Lease negotiated by NYCHA and the Legal Aid Society contains language that bankers acting as lenders to RAD structured finance transactions had requested or required, according to one RAD Landlord. Whenever an “as is” provision such as this has been written into residential apartment leases, such language has been called an illegal attempt to waive the implied warranty of habitability.

NYCHA residents have been forced to live in uninhabitable apartments with non-working elevators, broken boilers, poisonous lead in drinking water and in household paint, leaks, and toxic mold. The latest crisis public housing residents face are the risks of RAD.

Given that NYCHA residents have been forced to live in public housing apartments that violated Federal regulations for physical condition standards, NYCHA is forcing tenants to accept express waivers of the implied warranty of habitability that case law establishes for residential apartment leases.

A 2015 discussion paper by Harvard Law School student Meirav Furth-Matzkin described “as is” language in residential leases as an example of an “unenforceable disclaimer of the warranty.”

According to the presentation at last night’s meeting at the Wyckoff Community Center, a representative of the new RAD Landlord for 572 Warren Street admitted that NYCHA worked in conjunction with the Legal Aid Society to draft the Form of the RAD Lease, adding that some of the language was requested or required by the RAD bankers acting as lenders to the structured finance transaction.

Rent hikes coming in six months.

An agent of the RAD Landlord also mentioned that the RAD conversion of 572 Warren Street is expected to take place in February 2020. Generally, public housing tenants get recertified for a new lease every 12 months. During recertification, the local public housing authority audits residents’ income in order to claim 30 per cent. of residents’ income as rent. However, the new RAD Landlord at 572 Warren Street is expected to begin recertification process only six months into the RAD conversion, meaning tenants face an accelerated rent increase in 2020.

Defenders of RAD conversions have long claimed that RAD Landlords only profit from tax credit provided for in structured finance transactions. Critics of RAD point to the accelerated rent increases coming to 572 Warren Street residents as an example of RAD Landlords seeking to profit from rent increases extracted from residents living on fixed incomes or very low incomes. Tenants also face a phase-out of services or utilities, which will transfer opportunity costs or expenses directly to residents, thus adding to their rent burden.

Bill de Blasio agrees to meeting with Fight For NYCHA, Fulton tenants, and U.S. Rep. Nydia Velázquez

de Blasio agrees to meet with Fight For NYCHA

Bill de Blasio was confronted with two options to fully-fund NYCHA : (i). The People’s Budget, and (ii). the Public Housing Emergency Response Act (H.R.4546)

At Mayor Bill de Blasio’s disastrous NYCHA town hall in Chelsea on Thursday, 19 déc 2019, the Mayor was confronted with two options to fully-fund NYCHA : (i) the People’s Budget that proposes new taxes on the rich to fund new Government policy on housing, justice, and dignity for all New Yorkers, and (ii). U.S. Rep. Nydia Velázquez’s bill, the Public Housing Emergency Response Act (H.R.4546).

Fight For NYCHA have reached out to the office of U.S. Rep. Velázquez to schedule a meeting with Mayor de Blasio.

Read the People’s Budget

AOC threw NYCHA tenants under the bus. The Movement School is implicated. Now comes the Movement School, claiming they can organise NYCHA.

The failure to introduce a Federal budget resolution requesting $32 billion for NYCHA represents both a lack of moral clarity, and a policy failure.

During her campaign for Congress, and after her election, U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY 14) portrayed herself as the antidote to corporate Democrats, who had gone tone-deaf to the suffering of average people. For decades, New Yorkers had been enduring horrifying Government policies set by neoliberalism and austerity. By running for office with help from the Democratic Socialists of America, U.S. Rep. Ocasio-Cortez invoked her subscription to socialist ideology as a primary qualification for public office. Her campaign win was credited to Justice Democrats, a new political committee. Veterans of her campaign reportedly formed an outreach and get-out-the-vote arm of Justice Democrats, known as Movement School. That outreach arm is now engaged in dishonestly organising public housing tenants after U.S. Rep. Ocasio-Cortez turned down a request in March to sponsor a budget resolution to fully-fund the local public housing authority.

Early in 2019, members of Fight For NYCHA approached U.S. Rep. Ocasio-Cortez’s office with an opportunity for her to show leadership on the need to fully-fund the New York City Housing Authority, or NYCHA, as the local public housing authority is known. Members of Fight For NYCHA had e-mail exchanges and several calls with staff, as well as in-office meeting with staff and with U.S. Rep. Ocasio-Cortez herself. At first, Fight For NYCHA was requesting that U.S. Rep. Ocasio-Cortez sponsor a budget resolution for the 2019-2020 Federal Budget in the full amount of NYCHA’s capital budget deficit, estimated to be $32 billion. Members of Fight For NYCHA described the Government’s divestment and neglect of public housing, and members of Fight For NYCHA noted that, as a result, Mayor Bill de Blasio (D-New York City) was proposing to privatise public housing. Despite the dangerous conditions facing public housing tenants, the office of U.S. Rep. Ocasio-Cortez turned down the funding request. After that request was turned down, members of Fight For NYCHA requested that U.S. Rep. Ocasio-Cortez sponsor a budget resolution for only half the amount, and Fight For NYCHA members said that they would organise NYCHA tenants and request the remainder of the funding from City and State Governments. But that second request was also turned down.

On top of feeling betrayed by AOC, as the U.S. Representative is known, members of Fight For NYCHA sensed that AOC’s own political apparatus was going to take advantage of public housing tenants, who had been left unfunded by the socialist political superstar. The telephone discussions about the funding requests took place with Randy Abreu, an AOC Congressional staffer, who was a co-founder of Movement School. What members of Fight For NYCHA found troubling was that, on two occasions, Abreu said that, in the wake of U.S. Rep. Ocasio-Cortez turning down the funding requests, Movement School would organise NYCHA public housing tenants. After AOC consulted with her staff on the budget resolution request, and after they made a decision to turn down the budget resolution request, Movement School was going to use the decision of their own making (the refusal to sponsor a budget resolution to fully-fund NYCHA) as a pretext to do outreach and recruiting for Justice Democrats.

Does Movement School have to lie to NYCHA tenants before Movement School can gain their trust ?

U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY 14) has turned her back on NYCHA.

Before negotiations began with the co-founder of Movement School, AOC’s senior counsel, Dan Riffle, announced that U.S. Rep. Ocasio-Cortez was co-sponsoring emergency funding for NYCHA that never materialised. Riffle next promised that U.S. Rep. Ocasio-Cortez’s office would never support any plan that would “privatize NYCHA.” Since AOC would later refuse to denounce the mayor’s privatisation plan for NYCHA, she would betray her promise to oppose any privatisation of NYCHA.

These discussions took place in March. One month later, Mayor de Blasio announced a plan that would include the first-of-its-kind demolition of public housing and the scaling up of the use of a controversial programme known as Rental Assistance Demonstration, or RAD. Under RAD, the U.S. Dept. of Housing and Urban Development approves the transfer of management of public housing developments to private landlords. As Fight For NYCHA has argued, RAD leads to rent hikes, increased allegations of tenant harassment and discrimination, and higher eviction rates. With 90 per cent. of NYCHA tenants being people of colour, these changes to public housing policies would disproportionately affect people based on race. Under the disparate-impact rule of the Fair Housing Act, any housing policy that leads to a disparate-impact based on race is discriminatory and, as a consequence, unlawful. Despite this unlawfulness, nobody with Movement School, not even Abreu, who was a co-founder, saw anything wrong with the decision by U.S. Rep. Ocasio-Cortez’s office to refuse to sponsor a budget resolution for NYCHA funding, because their decision to keep NYCHA defunded left a fiscal vacuum seized by Mayor de Blasio as the reason to demolish and privatise public housing.

Months after declining to sponsor a NYCHA budget resolution in Congress, AOC refuses to denounce RAD.

Five months after public housing funding discussions broke down between Fight For NYCHA and U.S. Rep. Ocasio-Cortez’s office, AOC spearheaded a Bronx townhall dedicated to NYCHA. AOC’s staff went through the motions of inviting Fight For NYCHA members, but members would only be tolerated as guests, and would not be given any dedicated speaking time. Under such conditions, members of Fight For NYCHA refused to attend, fearing that attendance would only be used to validate unknown policy positions.

True to those concerns, U.S. Rep. Ocasio-Cortez refused to address at her NYCHA townhall whether she supported Mayor de Blasio’s embrace of RAD to privatize NYCHA public housing, according to a tweet posted by a reporter for the New York Times.

U.S. Rep. Ocasio-Cortez’s refusal to denounce RAD was seen by many as an abdication of leadership, at best, or complicity with the privatisation of NYCHA public housing, at worst.

AOC’s refusal to provide crucial, early support to the idea that NYCHA needed to be fully-funded represented a betrayal of her socialist ideology. Because NYCHA public housing is social housing, U.S. Rep. Ocasio-Cortez’s refusal to support the full-funding of social housing meant that the private sector would begin to transform both the rent paid by public housing tenants and the value of strategic public assets into sources of profit for certain participants of the real estate industry. It is not known if that was the transformation AOC sought to bring about whilst in office.

AOC uses her office to protect party leaders, not to fight for the people.

AOC and Movement School turn blind eyes to repeated press reports, alleging corruption of Mayor de Blasio’s housing policies, including the disposition of public housing assets.

Relentless press reports make showings that Mayor de Blasio’s housing policies have been allegedly encumbered by conflicts of interest, appearances of pay-to-play corruption, and favours to campaign donors. In response, U.S. Rep. Ocasio-Cortez and Movement School have remained mum. Their silence in the face of questionable changes in City housing policy and the possible disposition of public housing assets casts doubt on their judgment and intentions, particularly in respect of NYCHA’s future.

NYCHA tenants are living in uninhabitable conditions — with lead paint that is poisoning, and impeding the development of, children ; toxic mold and mildew ; broken elevators ; heat and hot water outages ; and other building or code violations — and the only solution is the provision of full-funding to make the capital repairs to public housing to restore humane living conditions to NYCHA tenants.

What is true that U.S. Rep. Ocasio-Cortez’s campaign overlapped with Movement School, and that one of her policy advisors in New York was a co-founder of Movement School, and that policy advisor relayed the decision not to support a budget resolution seeking to fully-fund NYCHA this Fiscal Year before announcing that Movement School would, in that vacuum, organise public housing tenants. It is clear that, in dealing with AOC, one is facing an intertwined campaign-Congressional office-outreach arm of Justice Democrats apparatus. How can NYCHA tenants trust this apparatus to organise public housing tenants in New York when, in their judgement, there was nothing wrong in throwing NYCHA tenants under the bus ?

When Movement School recruits NYCHA tenants as outreach for Justice Democratis, it is not known if Movement School admits to the truth about how it was involved in AOC’s decision to turn down the funding request for NYCHA, or if Movement School has to lie about its role.